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nhamann comments on Philosophy: A Diseased Discipline - Less Wrong

88 Post author: lukeprog 28 March 2011 07:31PM

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Comment author: nhamann 28 March 2011 09:42:32PM 13 points [-]

Note that this is not just my vision of how to get published in journals. It's my vision of how to do philosophy.

Your vision of how to do philosophy suspiciously conforms to how philosophy has traditionally been done, i.e. in journals. Have you read Michael Nielsen's Doing Science Online? It's written specifically about science, but I see no reason why it couldn't be applied to any kind of scholarly communication. He makes a good argument for including blog posts into scientific communication, which, at present, doesn't seem to be amenable with writing journal articles (is it kosher to cite blog posts?):

Many of the best blog posts contain material that could not easily be published in a conventional way: small, striking insights, or perhaps general thoughts on approach to a problem. These are the kinds of ideas that may be too small or incomplete to be published, but which often contain the seed of later progress.

You can think of blogs as a way of scaling up scientific conversation, so that conversations can become widely distributed in both time and space. Instead of just a few people listening as Terry Tao muses aloud in the hall or the seminar room about the Navier-Stokes equations, why not have a few thousand talented people listen in? Why not enable the most insightful to contribute their insights back?

I would much rather see SIAI form an open-access online journal or scholarly FAI/existential risks wiki or blog for the purposes of disseminating writings/thoughts on these topics. This likely would not reach as many philosophers as publishing in philosophy journals, but would almost certainly reach far more interested outsiders. Plus, philosophers have access to the internet, right?

Comment author: lukeprog 28 March 2011 10:20:48PM 7 points [-]

No, I agree that much science and philosophy can be done in blogs and so on. Usually, it's going to be helpful to do some back-and-forth in the blogosphere before you're ready to publish a final 'article.' But the well-honed article is still very valuable. It is much easier for people to read, it cites the relevant literature, and so on.

Articles could be, basically, very well-honed and referenced short summaries of positions and arguments that have developed over dozens of conversations and blog posts and mailing list discussions and so on.

Comment author: Dustin 29 March 2011 03:25:39AM 3 points [-]

I often get lost in back-and-forth on blogs because it jumps from here to there and assumes the reader has kept track of everything everyone involved has said on the subject.

My point being, that I agree that both the blogosphere and article are important.

Comment author: alfredmacdonald 15 December 2012 08:33:40AM 4 points [-]

YeahOKButStill has an interesting take on the interaction between philosophy done in blogs and philosophy done in journals:

"... Many older philosophers lament the current lack of creativity and ingenuity in the field (as compared to certain heady, action-packed periods of the 20th century), yet, it is a well-established fact that in order to be published in a major journal or present at a major conference, a young philosopher has to load their paper/presentation with enormous amounts of what is called the "relevant literature". This means that even the most creative people among us (a group I do not count myself as belonging to) must spend huge amounts of time, space and energy trying to demonstrate just how widely they have read and just how many possible objections to their view they can consider, lest some irritable senior philosopher think that their view has not been given a fair shake. Of course, there is no evidence whatsoever that the great philosophers of the 20th century wrote and thought in this manner, as a quick survey of that relevant literature will show.

Blogs are a space for young philosophers to explore their ideas without these sorts of constraints, to try ideas on for size and to potentially get feedback from a wide audience. Indeed, the internet has the potential to host forums that could make reading groups at Oxford and Cambridge look positively stultifying. Yet, this is not how things are playing out: most young philosophers I know are afraid to even sign their real names to a comment thread. This, as anyone can see, is an absurd situation. However, since I have no control over it, I must bid this public space adieu."